IMBA has been hosting regional Summits throughout the United States this year. The summits are designed to allow clubs from a similar region the opportunity to share their best practices, learn new tools from advocacy experts at IMBA and mingle together to create a stronger regional network of clubs and IMBA chapters.
Last weekend we attended the Midwest Regional Summit, a whoppin’ good time. We wanted to share a quick and dirty Top 10 list of things to consider if you’re putting on a mountain bike festival. Surely we’ve forgotten something here, so pipe up the comment section with anything we missed, or that you’d like to see at festivals.
1. Take the opportunity to let clubs share their ideas. The greatest benefit of these festivals is that clubs learns and share best practices from other clubs.
2. Take a bit of time to teach people advocacy tools. Being an effective advocate means knowing what you want and how to get it, and it’s not always easy. Don’t take up the whole festival with advocacy, but have a balance of advocacy and fun.
3. Make the entry fee affordable, in the $20-$30 range, and offer schwag bags with club-logo stuff, discounts, etc. Give people something tangible for their entry fee.
4. Pick a festival spot with other area amenities: pools, parks, breweries, camping, hotels, grocery stores.
5. Also pick a festival spot within proximity to many different trail systems and hand out trail maps and directions to each. Schedule group ride departure times to all of the trail systems.
6. Plan events for all ages and skills levels: kid’s, women’s, beginner, expert rides, but also skill clinics. Aside from rides, vary your evening events (we liked the beer potluck idea at the Midwest festival – everyone bring a six pack to share), so that some are family-friendly.
7. Make sure that your club and volunteers are friendly and helpful. This is your time to shine!
8. Games are fun (mountain bike Olympics perhaps) – who doesn’t like to show off their mountain biking skills?
9. Festivals are a great way to attract new members, which can turn into new volunteers or leaders for your club. So make a point to ask each of your volunteers and club members to go talk to at least one new person at the festival (especially that person standing in the corner looking lonley). You never know who you might end up meeting.
10. Recap the event! Learn from your successes and mistakes, and make next year’s even better!